If you are a freelance writer, chances are you’ll be keen to take the “fresh start” impetus that hangs in the ether at this time of year and run with it to ensure 2015 is even more successful than 2014 was. So how can you do this?
Well, while there are precious few “quick fixes” around that are able to guarantee immediate financial gain upon implementation, there are a number of strategies available that can help improve the average freelance writer’s chances of generating a higher and steadier income.
Here are five of the most effective:
1. Start Carrying a Notepad Around with You
You know those little black notepads with pencils attached that coppers like to take out and write down “particulars” in? Well do yourself a favour; buy yourself something similar and get in the habit of keeping it with you wherever you go. Why? Like most freelance writers and other creative types, you are probably blessed/cursed with a brain that simply refuses to switch itself off. Even when you’re not working, chances are you come up with all manner of ideas about articles, pitches, business ventures, manuscripts and so on which – at the time – seem like absolute winners. The thing is, some of these ideas may well be winners, but if you don’t remember them or are too busy to pursue them, they won’t add up to anything at all. Keeping one of these little pads on your person will enable you to keep a record of all those flickering little light bulbs that flash up above your head, thus allowing you to explore each one in greater depth at a more conducive moment.
2. Join LinkedIn
“You’re kidding me! LinkedIn is for corporate go-getters, not for bohemian wordsmiths like me!” If this is your way of thinking, then it’s time to compromise some of your more puritanical ideals and embrace the many opportunities LinkedIn offers – with the most significant being that it allows you to get in touch with publishers, clients and companies operating within your own particular field. It is also the case that the LinkedIn name carries more than a certain degree of respectability and gravitas, so it is true to say having an impressive-looking LinkedIn profile will do a lot more for your online reputation than most other sites (just be sure to make it look very impressive).
3. Put Low Paying Jobs on the Backburner
Most freelance writers invariably find themselves contributing low paying articles for content farm sites in the initial stages of their career. While these low pay sites can prove to be a means to an end to a certain degree, they are certainly not the most effective way to generate a decent full-time income from writing. Let’s face it, writing tens of articles per day about subjects you have little interest in when you could earn the same amount of money writing one decent piece about something you love is not a great base to build a career on. Spend less time writing for content farms and more time marketing yourself and courting potential clients and you will – eventually – find the kind of higher paid work that makes freelance writing so rewarding (you can always keep the content farm stuff in reserve for leaner months).
4. Join a Writers’ Forum
Interacting with like-minded people is very healthy for creative types. Think about it: would Paul McCartney have penned classics like “Eleanor Rigby”, “Paperback Writer” and “Yesterday” if he never had John Lennon to bounce off? Would Samuel Taylor Coleridge have given the world Kubla Khan without Lord Byron’s input? Would we have missed out on Katie Price’s epic autobiography A Whole New World if Peter Andre wasn’t around to help make the magic happen?
Joining an online forum (or even a real-life community if you live in a large city) really can be of great benefit when you’re a freelance writer as, in addition to running potential ideas past people who know what they’re talking about, you can also use them to network and exchange advice (they are particularly good places to find co-workers for personal projects). Of course, not all forums are made equal so you’ll need to make sure the one(s) you join offer the kind of community experience you’re looking for (Tip: stay away from content farm forums).
5. Look after Yourself
Despite what you may think, this is not a subtle attempt to encourage you to hit the gym with all the other ‘one-month wonders’ this January. The thing is, it can be dangerous to ignore the fact that writing is – for the most part – a very sedentary business. Sure, you may wander around when you’re trying to think of ideas, or pace up and down when endeavouring to come up with a catchy title; but let’s be honest, you probably spend a good 90 per cent of your working day sat in front of an LCD screen. This is not good for you: not good for your body and not good for your brain. Needless to say, if your body and brain start performing at sub-optimal levels, then your work – and by proxy, your career – will suffer.
The best way to counter this is to ensure you get away from your chair and screen more frequently. Breaking up your work day with a good walk or two is a great way to mitigate the effects of sitting for long periods, as is vacating your work desk to eat lunch/snacks elsewhere (out in the garden or at a local park perhaps). Ensuring you get a decent amount of sleep every night and enforcing a ‘no computer for 24 hours’ policy for at least one day a week will also help to keep your mind and body feeling sharp.
Are you a freelance writer who has enjoyed continued success over the past year? If so, then please feel free to share your own tips for greater prosperity in 2015 in the comments box below.